Star Sports' Anil Jayaraj set to join Reliance-backed Viacom18 as head of sports biz

Jayaraj will step into the new role on 16th September

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 13, 2021 1:37 PM

Viacom18, the 51:49 JV between Reliance-promoted TV18 and ViacomCBS, has roped in Star Sports EVP Ad Sales Anil Jayaraj as CEO of Sports Business. Reporting into Network18 and TV18 MD Rahul Joshi, he will step into the new role on 16th September, while his last working day at Star Sports will be 15th September.

exchange4media had on 9th August reported that Reliance is planning to enter the sports broadcasting business through Viacom18 and is tapping senior executives from rival networks including Star India for building a new team. TV18 is a 51.17% subsidiary of Network18 Media & Investments, which, in turn, is held primarily (73.15%) by Independent Media Trust (IMT). Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is the sole beneficiary of IMT.

The report mentioned that Disney+ Hotstar SVP & Head of Advertising, Gulshan Verma had joined JioAds as CEO. “Another senior ad sales executive from a broadcasting company who recently stepped down might also be in talks with them,” a source had told us.

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As the head of sports business, Jayaraj will be responsible for all aspects of the business including P&L, content strategy, rights acquisition, marketing, and ad sales. Viacom18's distribution is managed by IndiaCast Media Distribution.

For Jayaraj, the new role comes with its own set of challenges as well as opportunities. As CEO of Sports Business, he will get a holistic view of the sports broadcasting business, unlike Star where he was mainly driving ad revenue monetisation. Since Viacom18 is a new entrant in sports broadcasting, Jayaraj will have to build the business ground up. His first priority will be to put together a strong team for running the sports broadcasting business.
It is not clear if Viacom18 will roll out the sports channel immediately now that it has got hold of properties like LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue1, and Abu Dhabi T10 League. Between these properties, the broadcaster has got enough live sports content to launch a dedicated sports channel. Recently, Viacom18 had received four TV licences under dummy names like Connected, Eco-Lution, My Cam, and Pick-A-Trick.

Jayaraj's biggest challenge will be the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) media rights auction which will have Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), Amazon, and Facebook in the fray. Jayaraj will have to work in tandem with Joshi and senior Reliance Jio officials to mount a serious challenge to the established players. Disney-owned Star India is the incumbent IPL media rights owner till 2022.

A seasoned media and marketing professional with over two decades of experience, Jayaraj has worked across organisations like Castrol, BP, Pidilite and Star Sports.

At Pidilite, he was the Chief Marketing Officer for close to five years. He then switched to ad sales by joining Star Sports. He had a 6.5-year stint at Star where he spearheaded on-air ad monetisation for properties like IPL, Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Indian Super League (ISL) besides International Cricket Council (ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) events.

As reported earlier, Viacom18 has reported a 65% growth in net profit at Rs 582.89 in FY21 compared to Rs 353.54 crore in FY20. This happened due to improvement in monetisation along with cost optimisation measures undertaken by the company.

As per Viacom18's annual filing, the company's revenue from operations dropped by 15.37% to Rs 3276.32 crore for the fiscal under review as against Rs 3871.65 crore, majorly due to cut back in ad spends by advertisers following the Covid-19 related lockdown. The company reported a 15.43% decline in total income at Rs 3286.16 crore compared to Rs 3886.16 crore a year ago.

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